An Olympian remediation scheme
5 September 2008, News release from Brownfield Briefing
Brownfield Briefing talks to Jan Hellings, the Olympic Delivery Authority's project sponsor for enabling works, about the remediation of the Olympic Park.
BB: In a project of this size, with a non-negotiable deadline, there must be
compromise and pragmatism win over innovation and truly sustainable practice. Have the
remediation works suffered confl icts of this nature?
JH: I don't believe so. Regarding sustainability, the Olympics Project has committed to a very
challenging target to retain at least 90% of all we fi nd; a maximum of 10% only to leave the site.
We are treating all the contaminated soil on site through a variety of methods - but mainly soil
washing - with only the toxic residue going to landfi ll.
With regards to innovation, although the treatment methods that we are using are not really
'innovative', the way that many hundreds of thousands of tonnes contaminated material are being
dealt with in a systematic and coordinated way, I would regard as 'innovative'.
BB: What is the single biggest challenge you have faced (or are facing) on this project so far?
JH: There have been (or are) several challenges; these have included undertaking a very
comprehensive archaeological investigation through the excavation of around 150 excavations
(some of them extremely large!) as part of our planning conditions. Satisfying the archaeologists'
requirements against project deadlines for handover of key areas has been particularly
Perhaps an even bigger challenge has been dealing with the feral cat population which inhabited
the buildings on the site. We called in a local cat rescue organisation in order to remove them
safely in advance of construction, but a lot of them clearly did not want to be rescued!
BB: Remediation of the Olympic Park is an exceptional project. Are there lessons that the
contaminated land industry can learn from it or is it in a league of its own?
JH: In my view, the key lesson is to bring the key regulators/stakeholders on board as part of the
team right from the start. We have the Environment Agency and British Waterways representatives
in our offices on site; they and others such as English Heritage and Thames Water have become
part of the project team. Without all their (constructive) input, we would not be where we are today
on the project.
BB: What brownfield-related innovation/development do you want to know more about right now?
JH: How to deal with the new EU-led directive regarding the organic content of materials sent to
landfill. We are now incurring a cost impact as a portion of the concentrated toxic residue from our
soil washing plants does not meet the new standards and needs further treatment. Few options
are currently available for this waste stream and hence this is escalating the cost of disposal. The
issue is a result of our efficiency in our soil washing process, which addresses all other aspects of
re-use aspects and waste compliance but has a waste stream that is now causing a debatable cost
to the programme vs. environmental regulation benefit.
Jan Hellings will be speaking at Brownfield Briefing's Contaminated Land
and Brownfi eld Remediation Conference, 16-17 September 2008. For more information or to book, please contact us (details below)
For further information please email Brownfield Briefing